Thanks to Advertigo and the great weekend in Valtiberina to attend the Palio della Balestra, I had the opportunity to discover the green side of Anghiari, that I would never thought it would be so pleasant.
Anghiari, not only the town of the battle
The town of Anghiari is renowned because of the Battle of Anghiari, that took place on June 29th 1440 between Florence and Milan and was then depicted by Leonardo da Vinci in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. And the town preserves its original medieval look located on top of a windy hill and embraced in massive walls.
Walking around the narrow streets you can see lots of lovely spots, flowered balconies and windows, as well as ancient and important buildings such as Palazzo Pretorio decorated nobles coat of arms. As a matter of fact Anghiari is listed as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy (Borghi più belli d’Italia, that are actually 120 at the moment).
Just outside the old center there is Busatti, old and traditional weaving workshop producing shutle-loom weaving of linen, wool, hemp and cotton entirely by hand. Underneath the shop there is the old laboratory with several looms dating back to the beginning of 20th century. Busatti still follows the historical procedures learned in over 200 years of history. I felt in love with the colorful textiles representing the real “Italian style”.
I also have to say that Anghiari’s people are really funny and organize great events all year round, such as the “Scampanata” held every 5 years in May and dating back to 2nd century b.C. when almost the entire town has to be at 6am in main square for a peculiar race. Who’s late will be publicly mocked on a funny cart along the streets.
Other unmissable appointments are the Tovaglia a Quadri (August) that is an open-air family dinner with theater show, and the Artisans Market (April-May) where you can find the best masters and craftsmen of Tuscany.
Biking the “Intrepida” and the green surroundings
Another peculiar appointment is the Intrepida, vintage cycling race held in October. The race requests vintage bikes and costumes and tours the green surroundings of Anghiari. I had the chance to bike a small part of the route and I was really pleased.
As a matter of the fact the surroundings of Anghiari are incredibly green: you can bike along the Tevere river, in the Golena Protected area, and get stunned from beautiful landscapes as well as bike through long plantations of tobacco. Actually this area is famous for the production of Toscano cigars, high-quality intense cigars renowned all around the world. And when you ride don’t worry if you see a house smoking, because it’s a probably where the tobacco is flamed-cured with smoke of oak and beech woods. To get the most out of your tour I suggest you contact Hike and Bike Italy, specialized in walking and bike tours in this area, as well as in Tuscany. Very professional and well-organized, also for bikers’ dummies as me.
Then you should stop at Ortobono, a small farm producing real organic food. Enrico and his family run the farm producing only seasonal vegetables and fruit in a real organic way. They are also an “educational farm” and organize special activities for children, as well as cooking courses and food tasting. In addition they have a small shop selling their fruit, vegetables and homemade jars. If you go there in summer ask for the “Pomodoro lampadino”, small yellow tomatoes, that are delicious!
Where to stay
For a green and relaxing stay I suggest the Agriturismo Rancaccio, located on top of a hill in Pieve a Ranco. The farmhouse is immersed in the Valley of Cerfone within the woods and preserves the ruins of the ancient and important Castle of Ranco. In addition the farmhouse has a large estate and produces chestnuts, pasta, jams and also truffles. It offers large silent holiday apartments with fireplace and swimming-pool! If you’re looking for a relaxing place for your Italian stay, well this is the place.